Midday Fix: Kentucky Derby party entertaining tips from Carol Mackey

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Carol Mackey


Mint Bluelep Cocktail

Ginger Simple Syrup

2 Tbs sliced fresh ginger
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup cold water
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 lime; sliced
20 to 24 fresh mint leaves
4 oz. ginger simple syrup
4 oz. vodka
5 oz. seltzer water
ice cubes
blueberries, for garnish
mint leaves, for garnish

Peel and slice the ginger and add it, together with the sugar and cold water, to a saucepan. Bring it to the boil and stir until the sugar dissolves. Cover and let steep for 15 minutes. Strain and cool in the refrigerator when done.

Add the blueberries, lime slices and fresh mint leaves to the glass (or pitcher). Muddle with a wooden spoon so the blueberries are broken and the mint and lime release their juices and flavor. If assembling a pitcher you can cover them at this stage and leave in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
When ready to serve, add the simple syrup, vodka and top off with seltzer water. Give it a quick stir and then pour into glasses with ice cubes. Garnish with a handful of fresh blueberries and a sprig of mint.
Makes 2 tall glasses or 4 small (rocks glass size).

Asparagus Salad with Smoked Mozzarella

1 bunch asparagus, cooked and cut into 1 1/2” pieces
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, cut into strips
1/4 cup diced smoked mozzarella
2 Tbs toasted pinenuts
2 hard boiled eggs
1 tomato

Start the asparagus in cold water (reserving the tips) simmer until tender about 12 minutes from start to finish.  Add the tips after 8 minutes.  Plunge in ice water after draining to prevent further cooking.


1/3-cup olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp Dijon
1 garlic clove
1/2 tsp. diced shallot
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients. Toss dressing with salad ingredients. Top the salad with egg slices and place a *tomato rose in the center of the salad.
*Start by peeling the bottom part of the tomato, peel like you would an apple.  When finished form the rose with the peel.

Pimento Cheese Fritters

1 cup grated aged white cheddar cheese
1 cup grated aged sharp cheddar cheese
4 Tbs cream cheese
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp finely diced garlic
dash of cayenne
2 Tbs roasted red pepper; diced
1 cup flour
4 eggs
2 cups panko bread crumbs
oil for frying
purchased spicy pepper jelly for serving

Combine cheeses, mayo, garlic and cayenne, stir in diced red pepper. Roll into 16 balls and refrigerate for at least an hour or longer to firm up.  Roll cheese balls in flour then egg and then panko. Hit oil to 350 and fry until golden, serve with pepper jelly.  Skewer with cute horseshoe and jockey picks.

Horsey Ham Sandwiches

12-ounces cooked ham
1/3 to 1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp powdered mustard
1 celery stalk, finely diced
1 Tbs dill pickle relish

Pulse ham in a food processor. Add the mayonnaise and mustard, celery and dill pickle. Refrigerate several hours or overnight. Spread on bread top with another piece of bread and using a horse cookie cutter cut out shapes.  I alternated between white and wheat bread and served a little bowl of carrots on the platter.

Red Velvet Roses

1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup coco powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter
3 eggs
1/2 Tbs vanilla extract
2 tsps red food coloring (add more if desired)
1 Tbs vinegar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 Nordicware Sweetheart Rose Pan

Preheat oven to 350. Spray Nordicware Sweetheart Rose Pan with Pam Baking Spray. In a bowl combine flour, salt and coco powder, set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine butter and sugar, add eggs one at a time add vanilla extract and half of the flour mixture; incorporate and add the rest (do not over mix), next add food coloring to desired red color.  Finally mix vinegar and baking soda together and add to mixture, just to incorporate.  Fill rose pan 3/4 full.  Bake 20 minutes, let sit 10 and remove from pan.  Cool and fill from the bottom using a cupcake corer or a paring knife to cut out middle from the bottom of the rose.

Cream Cheese Frosting

4 oz. cream cheese
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Place cream cheese in a mixing bowl add softened cream cheese. Gradually add butter, and continue beating until smooth and well blended, add powdered sugar, and continue beating until smooth. Add vanilla, and stir to combine.  Pipe into hole on the bottom of the rose.  Make 1 pan which is 1 dozen.

Horseshoe and jockey/horse picks
Red velvet rose pan
Seersucker tablecloth - Crate and Barrel Outlet
Moss runner and moss with adhesive backing, small bale of hay, horses, rose paper used for doilies - Michaels

Carol's Tips:

Start with the colors. “Run for the roses”-Kentucky Derby should include roses that is an easy choice, a classic choice for men is the Seersucker suit, I found this Seersucker tablecloth at an outlet store for cheap.

The Kentucky Derby is also an elegant event so I used silver, some I had and some I found at a resale store, people don’t use silver much anymore so I found an abundance for $5 a tray!

Mint julep glasses from previous Kentucky Derby’s can be found on E-bay or antique stores, I have had my collection for many years; they are also fun to look back at the horses that ran past Kentucky Derby races.

Inexpensive ideas that wow your table; cut out circles for doilies using red roses paper from the craft store, spray painted horses silver and hung a food tag on them, adhesive moss cover cans hold some flowers and also made a little plaque with moss and craft roses.

It’s all in the details; using the horse picks for the appetizers, I borrowed a friend’s horse trophy, print off a “Run For The Roses” off the internet and stick it in a silver frame.